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A guide to funeral etiquette

A guide to funeral etiquette

What to do or say at a funeral can be confusing – what do you wear, what do you say and where do you sit?

As a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to follow the immediate family’s lead. But don’t bombard them with questions – remember that they are grieving and probably not thinking straight.

Once invited to the funeral, they will inform you of where and when the ceremony will take place. Unless you are an immediate relation, you can safely assume to make your own way to the service. Funeral cars following the hearse will be for those closest to the deceased such as a spouse, parents, children and siblings.

Turn up in plenty of time and join everyone else that has attended. Speak to people you know but be mindful that the immediate family will be very distressed – if there are lots of people surrounding them sharing their condolences than hang back and wait for another opportunity to pay your respects.

What to wear to a funeral

Dressing for a funeral can depend on the cultural and religious traditions of the family. Most people associate black to be the colour of mourning, but any dark colour is acceptable to wear to a funeral. In other cases, a bright colour code might be the wish of the bereaved family, but they would notify you beforehand. If in doubt, wear traditional, smart clothing such as a suit and plain tie or a dark dress, skirt or trousers.

Before the service

Never enter the building before the immediate family – they should lead the way for everyone else to follow and take a seat. It is traditional for those closest to the deceased to be sitting up front with other family and friends behind. If you are worried, then wait quietly for everyone to take their seats and then you can find your place.

After the service

After the funeral, most families organise a wake where everyone can gather to remember and celebrate the life that has been lost. It is a perfect opportunity to share your condolences with family members if you haven’t done so already. The venue and time of the wake will be on the invitation, and refreshments are usually provided.


If you are unsure of how to pay your respects and what to say, you won’t be the only one. Consider what you would want to hear if it was your loved one. All you need to do is offer a few kind and sympathetic words, for example, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” If you knew the family reasonably well, you could share a memory with them. If you don’t know the family, then introduce yourself and explain how you associated with the deceased.

At Far and Beyond Funerals, our trained staff are on-hand to provide guidance, comfort and support. If you would like more information or are looking for funeral directors Manchester trusts, get in touch with our team at Far and Beyond Funeral Services today.